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Part 1: Whitewash Plank Walls

by - Monday, July 30, 2012

As I mentioned on Friday, we added one more project onto our already lengthy basement To Do list. Call us crazy, but we decided to create our own plank walls and we decided to whitewash them too. Holy spontaneous, spur of the moment decision! I'll show you Part 1 today and tomorrow you'll see how the walls are looking. By the way, they're AWESOME.

Let me start by saying whitewashing is a lot more work than I thought it would be. A LOT. I actually enjoy painting walls, but whitewash... not so much. There are a few different techniques you can use for whitewashing so we decided to try them out and see which one we liked best.

First, we had to decide what material we were going to use for the planks. We settled on birch plywood (but more on that tomorrow!). To test out our whitewash technique, we used a 2'x2' birch plywood from The Home Depot and divided it into four sections using painters tape.

The other materials we used for our test: a container for mixing the whitewash, paint (we used our wall paint - Whitewash White from Para Paints), a rag, and a brush.

We mixed up the whitewash using 2 parts latex paint to 1 part water. Stir well.

The first technique we tested was the wiped brush. Dip the brush in the whitewash. Wipe off the excess on a rag. Brush whitewash onto your board. 

Then we tried the rag off technique. Dip your brush in the whitewash. Brush whitewash onto the board. Take a rag and wipe in circular motions across the board to take off the excess.

We also tried two other samples: using undiluted paint ragged off; and the ragged off technique but with two coats. Here's the results:

Its hard to tell but there were definite differences between the samples:

  • The wiped brush sample had visible brush strokes. The whitewash wasn't even, with some spots more opaque than others
  • The no dilution sample was uneven as well. The edges (where the whitewash met the painters tape) were more opaque. Since the paint wasn't diluted, it dried quickly and was harder to rag off.
  • The rag off 1 coat sample was nice and even. There were no brush strokes and the body and edges of the sample had nice even coating. You could really see the grain of the wood beneath.
  • The rag off 2 coat sample was also nice and even. The second coat muted the grain of the wood though it was still visible.

We decided to go with the rag off 2 coat technique. Then we realized we had 72 planks to whitewash and just about killed ourselves doing it. Tune in tomorrow to see how it all turned out!

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  1. I'll definitely keep this in mind when we get a chance to do this in our future house. I love the beachy look, very soothing and relaxing. Definitely one of the "must haves" in a house for us :) thx for explaining Jen! Did you see theletteredcottage's guest room reveal, they did wall planks as well. But i think their method will be a lot more expensive.

  2. what a smart idea!! can't wait to see how it all turn out.  rag off 2 coat is also my pick.  It has enough white and yet still see the wood grain.  Always so inspirational Jen!

  3. ramblingrenovators1:15 PM

    We decided to whitewash because we wanted to add some texture (from the 'shape' of the panels) but we also wanted to see the wood grain. Its hard to see on the plywood above, but on our "real" planks, the whitewash really brought out the grain and adds some nice pattern to the wall. Its a nice beachy look.

  4. barbara@hodge:podge1:15 PM

    You are crazy! But it is going to look great!

  5. We like method #2 as well. Why did you 'white wash' the plank woods instead of painting it the 'normal' way? I've never heard of white washing before and now I'm pretty curious. Sounds like you guys have a pretty busy week ahead of ya but its going to look awesome. Check out our small project we did over the wknd! Hope you like it :) (


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